July 24, 2024

I’ve been wanting to drive the VW Golf for quite a while. I remember when the first GTI’s came out in Europe. A friend of mine took part in the first racing series of that as well, so the total was an impressive impression for me. Of course the GTI has grown in size, gained in weight and power. It does take it away from the kind of boy racer the original GTI was, and that is a bit sad, but then, as I saw in Europe, VW there has a Polo GTI which seems to be very close to taking that position.

The current VW GTI is a really good car. Again, same as with the Tiguan, it has very impressive fit and finish. The bumper gaps are incredible. On top of that it doesn’t have as many body sidelines as the Tiguan, making it more timeless in my opinion. With good strength in the side sections it doesn’t look cheap, it looks just right.

VW does seem to suffer a bit from predictability in its design languages for each of its brands. Since they seem to use the same underpinnings, and they don’t want to be seen doing badge engineering, there are clear constraints on what can be used within those confines for each brand. In Europe I could easily see how the Skoda, Seat, VW, Audi and Porsche design languages were almost supplementary to heavy other. Where VW could not go was to to the lower side the Skoda brand, to the affordable sportier side the Seat brand, to the more luxurious side the Audi brand and to the sporty side the Porsche brand. It’s pretty limiting for designers to be so constraint.

I think that to boot, in the past VW has taken some design risks that weren’t really well accepted in the market, which makes marketing and product planning departments very cautious about new design ideas that stretch the current status quo. If you don’t risk it is playing it safe, or so says common thinking. On the other hand, exactly risking it was what made the original Golf, the original GTI and the original Scirocco a success. I like those kind of risks.

Driving the GTI was a true pleasure, of course. It’s very responsive to the throttle input, and practically invites you to speed. But even when you’re not, it does travel long distance in comfort and with good fuel consumption. Where the Tiguan was restricted to 31 mpg, the GTI manages just under 35 mpg, so I was not complaining. Also, the suspension wasn’t uncomfortably harsh to make it seem sporty. It was just right. I might have wanted a bit more harsh if I had the tendency to drive fast the majority of the time, but on the roads here in California it just seems uncomfortable.

All in all, I loved driving the GTI. Fully worth the wait.

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